Ariel is possibly based on the character in "The Tempest", a play made by William Shakespeare. In the play Ariel was a spirit bound by the magician Prospero and the one that causes the titular tempest to foil the other characters' plans to bring down his master. Although Ariel is widely known as a male character, many women have interpreted him due to the lack of female actors. Nowadays the character is portrayed by male and female actors equally.
Ariel is an angel in Abrahamic lore whose name was "Lion of God" and is said to represent Jerusalem itself. He was an angel of nature and one of several angels of water. In Gnosticism Ariel is another name for Yaldabaoth.